It is Hemp Day on the farm, and two dozen people, including a few notables, are standing on the edge of a one-acre plot in the middle of Rodale Institute’s experimental organic farm in Maxatawny Township. A cow moos in the distance.
There’s nothing to see yet, but it is a momentous occasion all the same.
In a day or two, explains Emmanuel Omondi, research director of the farming systems trial at Rodale Institute, scientists will plant hemp seeds from Canada in this rich soil. The four-year study will focus on how hemp affects soil health and weed control.
For the first time in more than 80 years, Pennsylvania has allowed hemp to be grown again – but under highly regulated and limited conditions.
After Gov. Tom Wolf signed the Industrial Hemp Research Act last July, the Rodale Institute and Lehigh University were selected to be among the initial 16 research organizations permitted to study the plant under the aegis of the state Department of Agriculture.
One of the purposes of the legislation is to explore the potential for economic